Few states were as important in the 2022 midterms as Pennsylvania. We should be used to this by now: Donald Trump won the state by fewer than 50,000 votes in 2016; Joe Biden carried it by 80,000 four years later, in a victory that made the Keystone State one of the big targets of Trump’s legal efforts to overturn the election—an exertion that led to the now infamous bit of political dark comedy that was Rudy Giuliani’s press conference at Four Seasons Total Landscaping.
But if the presidential election in Pennsylvania ended in a Veep episode, it created the conditions for a wider war two years later—and a high-stakes one at that. The state’s governor appoints its secretary of state, giving them extraordinary power over the state’s election: If the Republican nominee for governor, a rabid 2020 election conspiracy theorist, Doug Mastriano, had won, it seemed highly likely that he would work to tip the state’s 19 electoral votes to the party’s 2024 candidate, regardless of how the state voted.
Its Senate seat, held by Republican Pat Toomey for the last decade, was Democrats’ best opportunity for a flip. In that race, the state’s gruff lieutenant governor, Democrat John Fetterman, faced off against TV doctor Mehmet Oz, whose campaign was boosted by a timely endorsement from Trump in the spring. Down the stretch, Fetterman hammered Oz on authenticity: He was a quack doctor with a penchant for pushing diet scams who lived in New Jersey. Oz, meanwhile, stoked fears about the health of his opponent, who had a stroke shortly before the primary.
Later in Pennsylvania, there was an Avengers-like team-up for Democrats: Biden, Fetterman, gubernatorial nominee Josh Shapiro, and former President Barack Obama linked hands in Philadelphia. Donald Trump showed up to stump for Oz in Wilkes-Barre, where he reportedly was talked out of announcing a presidential run at the last minute. And it’s a good thing he didn’t—for Trump, at least. On Tuesday, his hand-picked nominees were trounced: Fetterman and Shapiro both won their elections.